Astros 3, Rays 2
(This game was the result of a simulation done through What If Sports. It matched the Tampa Bay Rays All-Time Team against the Houston Astros All-Time Team. This game did actually happen, but this simulation took place at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.)
This game was a pitching duel between Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan and Rays pitcher David Price. In his eight innings pitched, Price gave up five hits, three earned runs while striking out five Astros. On the other side, Ryan went eight innings and gave up four hits, one earned run, and struck out twelve to cruise to victory. Unfortunately, the ninth inning rally by the Rays was not enough to surmount the comeback, as the Astros held on with the 3–2 victory. Jeff Bagwell went 2-for-3 at the plate with three RBI.
A Slow Start
The Rays threatened the Astros early. After a leadoff single by Carl Crawford, he was thrown out trying to steal second. After a Julio Lugo strikeout, Ryan walked Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist, and Evan Longoria to load the bases. With a chance to do some damage early, Kevin Kiermaier hit a ground ball to third ending the inning leaving Ryan unscathed. In the Astros half of the first, the result was the same. After a lead-off walk by Cesar Cedeno, Craig Biggio flied out on the next play. After a fielder’s choice by Jeff Bagwell, Alex Bregman hit a grounder to third ending the inning. In the second, the Rays went quietly as Rocco Baldelli, Toby Hall, and Fred McGriff were retired in order. In the bottom of the second, Carlos Correa threatened with a one out single but Brad Ausmus and George Springer failed to advance the runner.
Bagwell Goes Deep
Astros’ first baseman Jeff Bagwell was the difference in this game. In the first inning, he reached first on a fielder’s choice. In the third inning, Bagwell hit a two-run home run over the center-field wall scoring him and Cesar Cedeno. This put the Astros up 2–0. Fortunately for both starting pitchers, the game remained scoreless until the eighth inning. There were instances where the Astros and Rays were close, but came up short. Both Ryan and Price managed to shut down the offense. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Bagwell did it again with a solo shot making the game 3–0 in favor of Houston.
Nolan Has a Night
Nolan Ryan had a spectacular performance against the Tampa Bay Rays. Although he appeared shaky in the first, he continued to dominate Tampa hitting for seven more innings. His best solution was the strikeout, as he fanned 12 Rays in eight innings. This is no surprise considering that Nolan Ryan is the all-time leader in strikeouts. The only other inning the right-hander had a problem was the fourth inning. After giving up a one out walk to Kevin Kiermaier, Toby Hall reached base on an error. Fortunately for Houston, Fred McGriff struck out to end the inning.
A Late Comeback for the Rays
Although it might have been a questionable decision, the Astros sent Nolan Ryan out to start the ninth inning. After a Kevin Kiermaier leadoff walk, and Rocco Baldelli reaching on an error, Toby Hall scored them both with a single to left field. This brought the Rays within one as the score was now 3–2. After that single, Ryan’s night was over and Billy Wagner came on in relief. Fortunately for the Astros, Wagner did not do much better, but he held the lead. After a Fred McGriff sacrifice, he gave up back-to-back singles to Carl Crawford and Julio Lugo. With the bases loaded and only one out, Wagner managed to end the inning unscathed with back-to-back strikeouts from Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist. The comeback was not enough as the Astros win 3–2 over the Rays.
What’s Next for Houston?
With the Houston Astros advancing in the LWOS All-Time Team tournament; they will face either the second seed Boston Red Sox All-Time Team or the 15th seed Seattle Mariners All-Time Team. If the Red Sox advance, the seventh seed Astros will travel to Fenway Park, and if the Mariners advance they will play the next round in Houston.
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Nolan Ryan, David Price, Jeff Bagwell, Carl Crawford, Julio Lugo, Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria, Kevin Kiermaier, Cesar Cedeno, Craig Biggio, Alex Bregman, Rocco Baldelli, Toby Hall, Fred McGriff, Carlos Correa, Brad Ausmus, George Springer, Billy Wagner